One of the small pleasures of travelling in Europe is spotting all the cars that are never seen on New Zealand roads. No trip is complete without a small chuckle at seeing a bug-eyed Renault Twingo or a pint-sized Fiat Seicento. And there are whole marques that are never seen in New Zealand because our market is too small. The Seat from Spain is one such car, so we miss out on the VW subsidiary's ace small cars that are popular on the roads of Western Europe, such as the Ibiza and the Toledo. And on a recent visit to Italy I was reminded of the century-plus legacy of the Lancia, a fine Italian brand with a proud heritage of rallying success.
A decade or two ago Lancia produced straight-lined sturdy boxes with a macho air, like the Delta. But things have changed quite a bit since then, and the thing I like about modern Lancia design is its idiosyncratic styling - many could uncharitably be described as ugly. But I absolutely love that a multi-million euro manufacturing line is devoted to producing cars that actually look different to all the other cars on the road. Even if I probably wouldn't buy one with my own money.
This came to mind last month as I was walking alongside the Adige river that runs through the heart of Verona. The hot June sun made for slow progress, so I was able to pause occasionally and notice a fine range of Lancias (Lanciae?) with their distinctive swooping rear ends and elongated tail-lights. For some reason all the vehicles I spotted were black. Mad Lancias of Verona, I salute you!
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Blog: Two-thirds of the distance to the Moon, 8 November 2014
Blog: Te Awanga British Car Museum, 28 October 2014